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Then-CIA director Gina Haspel said Trump's post-election behavior was 'insanity' and he was 'acting out like a 6-year-old with a tantrum,' book says

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/16/2021 (Grace Panetta)
a woman in glasses looking at the camera: Former CIA Director Gina Haspel Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo © Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo Former CIA Director Gina Haspel Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo
  • Gina Haspel said Trump was "acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum" after the 2020 election, a new book says.
  • "We are on the way to a right-wing coup. The whole thing is insanity," Haspel told Gen. Mark Milley.
  • Haspel was particularly unnerved by Trump's firing of Defense Sec. Mark Esper, the book says.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Then-Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel vented to the US' top general that former President Donald Trump was "acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum" in the wake of the 2020 election, according to a new book.

In addition to refusing to concede the 2020 election to President Joe Biden and pushing groundless and outlandish claims of election fraud, Trump fired (or tried to fire) a number of top officials - most prominently including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on November 9.

"Yesterday was appalling," Haspel said in her November 10 conversation with Gen. Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's forthcoming book "Peril."

"We are on the way to a right-wing coup. The whole thing is insanity. He is acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum," Haspel, a 35-year veteran of the agency, said, with the authors writing that she, too, was afraid of being canned.

Milley assured Haspel that "we're going to be steady," according to the book. "Steady as a rock. We're going to keep our eye on the horizon. Keep alert to any risks, dangers. Keep the channels open."

Video: Watch: White House Drops Audio On Biden's Snide Response To Reporter About Afghanistan (Newsweek)


"Peril" and other books on the final months of the Trump administration released this summer pull back the curtain on the chaotic final weeks after the 2020 election, with Trump's behavior alarming many senior officials.

In "Peril," Woodward and Costa reveal that Milley placed a call to his counterpart in China to tell him "that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay" and that he would warn him if the US were to attack China.

One official, however, told Politico that the conversation was "grossly mischaracterized" in the book, and the Pentagon has defended Milley, with Pentagon spokesman John Kirby recently telling reporters that "it is not only common, it's expected that a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would continue to have counterpart conversations."

Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender's book, "Frankly We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost reported that then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also expressed concerns to at least one person that Trump would enter into a foreign conflict to try and stay in office after losing the 2020 election.

Trump's firing of Esper not only unnerved Haspel but alienated another top advisor, David Urban, who told the president's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner that it was "a dick move" that made Trump "look out of control," Bender's book said.

The book also says both Pompeo and Milley feared that the new officials brought into the Defense Department and White House after the 2020 election were conspiracy theorists and could even have "links to neo-Nazi groups."

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